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HOME > Short Stories > The Golden Boys at the Haunted Camp > CHAPTER IV THE GHOST SHOWS UP.
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 “I’ve got one.”  
Bob was rowing the flat bottomed boat and, as Jack1 spoke2, he dropped the oars3 and picked up the landing net.
“Is it a big one?” he asked.
“He’s pulling pretty hard,” Jack replied, rapidly reeling in his line.
“It’s a salmon,” Bob shouted a moment later as the fish broke water a hundred feet away. “And it’s a big one too; you’ll have to play him.”
For three quarters of an hour the battle raged, the big fish being at times almost within reach of the landing net only to make a fresh dash for freedom which more than once ran out nearly all the line, despite the generous use of the drag, before Jack was able to check it. But at last the boy’s skill won and the big fish lay gasping4 on the bottom of the boat.
“Some fish.”
“And some fighter,” Jack added. “What’ll he weigh?”
“Fifteen pounds if an ounce.”
At the supper table that night Bob tried adroitly5 to draw the big half-breed out regarding the ghost but, for some reason best known to himself, he was loath6 to talk about it and the boy did not dare to press the matter too far. So they learned nothing more that was of any use to them.
“If he’s innocent why doesn’t he want to talk about it?” Jack demanded as they were getting ready for bed a couple of hours later.
“Ask me something easy,” Bob smiled. “I tell you he’s a deep one, if I’m any judge but, just the same, I don’t believe he’s guilty.”
“Maybe not, but it’s my bet that he’ll bear watching.”
Each boy had a flashlight and an automatic beneath his pillow that night when he crawled into bed.
“Now let ’em come,” Bob whispered in a sepulchral7 tone as he blew out the light.
But nothing happened and they were somewhat chagrined8 when, after a dreamless sleep, they awoke to find the sun two hours high.
“Guess the ghost must be taking a vacation,” Jack laughed as he threw a pillow at his brother.
“And you’ll be taking one in a hospital if you don’t behave yourself,” Bob growled9 hurling10 the pillow back.
As soon as breakfast was over they started down the lake, in one of the canoes belonging to the camp, towing the borrowed one after him. It was a beautiful morning with the slightest hint of coolness in the clear spruce laden11 air and they had not gone a mile before Jack proposed that he get into the other canoe and that they have a race for the dam.
“How much handicap do you want?” Bob asked.
“Not a foot.”
“No buts about it. I’ll beat you even.”
But Jack knew that he was talking, as Bob would say, “through his hat,” but he would accept no favors.
“Dig in and do your best,” he shouted a while later after they had covered about half the distance. “There’s no friendship in this race.”
“All right, if you feel that way about it,” Bob laughed and almost immediately he began to forge ahead.
Jack exerted himself to the utmost but, although he was fully12 as skillful as his brother in the use of the paddle he lacked considerable when it came to a matter of strength. So he was not disappointed when Bob reached the dam nearly a quarter of a mile ahead. As he came out on the dam he found Bob talking with a man about forty years old.
“Mr. Sleeper13 this is my brother, Jack,” Bob introduced him as he came up.
“Mr. Sleeper was just telling me that he wants to go up to the camp,” he explained.
“Yes,” the man added. “You see I engaged board during the winter and I do not understand why there is no boat to meet us. The letter stated that a motor boat made regular trips to the dam.”
The two boys looked at each other uncertain what to say for fully a minute then Bob, realizing that the situation was becoming awkward, said:
“Well, you see, there are no boarders there now except us and I guess they have not been running the boat lately.”
“But I understood from the letter that the camp was filled all the time.”
“It isn’t now: in fact there’s no one at all there except my brother and I.”
“But why? I don’t understand it,” he insisted.
“Ghosts,” Bob said with a smile.
“Yes, sir, ghosts. At least that’s the report, but we haven’t seen any.”
“And how long have you been there?”
“We only came yesterday.”
“How about the help?”
“They’ve all gone. In fact there’s no one there except the manager, a half-breed named Jacques Bolduc.”
“Can he cook?” There was much eagerness in the man’s voice as he asked the question.
“I’ll say he can,” Jack broke in.
“Then that’s fine. He’ll take us won’t he?”
“Why, I suppose so,” Bob replied.
“Then I’ll tell my wife. She and Helen went down to look at the gorge14 just below. She’ll be tickled15 to death.”
“Because Jacques can cook?” Bob asked somewhat puzzled.
“No, although that will help, of course, but it’s the ghost I had reference to. You see,” he explained as he noted16 the puzzled expression on the boy’s face, “my wife is er—well, I guess I might as well call it a spiritualist. Believes in ghosts and all that sort of thing, you know. Of course, it’s all bunk17, but she’s got the bug18 all right.”
Just then a woman, accompanied by a girl about fifteen years old, appeared in the path just below the dam.
“There they are now,” the man cried. “Hurry up, Mary,” he called waving his hand. “I’ve got some wonderful news for you.”
Mr. Sleeper introduced the boys as soon as his wife and daughter joined them and then proceeded to tell them about the haunted camp.
Mrs. Sleeper, a charming woman some years younger than her husband, clapped her hands with delight.
“Isn’t that lovely?” she said turning to Bob. “Have you seen them?”
“No, mam, not yet,” he replied. “But we only came yesterday.”
“Maybe you’re not sympathetic,” she ventured.
“I don’t know about that, I’m sure,” Bob smiled.
“But how are we to get up there? How far is it?” Mr. Sleeper asked.
“It’s about five miles up the lake,” Bob told him. “We’ve got a good canoe that will easily carry us all and we’ll be glad to take you up if you’re not afraid to trust yourselves to us.”
“Not a bit of it, we can all swim,” Mrs. Sleeper assured him.
“Then if you’ll excuse us while we put a canoe we borrowed yesterday in the boat-house we’ll be all ready.”
They did not see the keeper of the dam until they had the canoe stowed away in its place. Then he joined them entering the house at a back door.
“Well, well, an’ the ghosts ain’t got ye yit?”
“Not yet,” Bob laughed.
“Did ye seen ’em?”
“Narry a ghost so far.”
After a few minutes’ talk with the old man they thanked him for the loan of the canoe and hastened back to their new friends.
“We’ll have to come back later for your baggage,” Bob told them as he glanced at the trunk and bags which were piled at one end of the dam.
“Oh, it won’t be a bit of trouble. There’s a good motor boat at the camp and we’ll come down in that. Perhaps you’d rather wait here while we go back and get it.”
“No, no,” Mrs. Sleeper declared. “I just love a canoe and I’m not a bit afraid.”
The five made a good load for the canoe and the boys kept as close to the shore as possible fearing their passengers might become frightened as a fairly stiff breeze was blowing. But they showed no signs of fear and appeared to be enjoying the trip. Mrs. Sleeper talked almost continually about the ghost and Bob told her all he knew omitting only the object of their mission.
Jacques was on the wharf19 as they rounded the point of land just below, and the boys could see from the expression on his face that he was not at all pleased as he caught sight of their passengers.
“My, what a cross looking man,” Helen whispered to her mother, but loudly enough for Bob to hear.
“He’s no beauty, that’s a fact, but he’s all right,” he assured her.
The breed received them kindly20, but shook his head when Bob told him that they wished to stay at the camp.
“Me sorry but—”
“Oh, we’re not a bit afraid of ghosts,” Mrs. Sleeper assured him. “And we’ll try not to be too much trouble. Please let us stay.”
Her kindly smile won the man completely and after explaining that he had no help and that they would have to put up with what he could do himself, he made no further objection and the Sleepers21 were soon domiciled in the cabin next to the one the boys occupied.
“We’ll run down and get your luggage right away,” Bob said.
“Can I go?” Helen asked.
“Sure, if your mother is willing,” Bob told her.
“You’re sure she won’t be in the way?” Mrs. Sleeper asked.
“Not a bit. We can all go if you like.”
But Mr. and Mrs. Sleeper decided22 they would stay at the camp and rest.
“You want to look out that you don’t fall in love,” Jack grinned as they were pushing the motor boat out from the boat-house.
“No danger,” Bob smiled. “But she is a beauty, isn’t she?”
“You said something, but what do you think of her folks?”
“They seem all right. Her mother is one fine lady if I’m any judge and her father is all to the mutton.”
“But I’ll bet she’ll yell if the ghost shows up.”
Helen was waiting on the wharf as they pushed the boat up and sprang in before they had time to help her.
“Isn’t this a dandy boat?” she cried.
The Loon23 was a twenty-foot boat equipped with a two cylinder24 Buffalo25 engine and Jacques had assured them that she would make fifteen miles an hour.
“All right. Turn her over,” Jack shouted as he pushed off from the wharf.
The engine caught at the first turn and in another moment they were speeding down the lake.
“This beats paddling,” Jack declared as he leaned back against the leather cushion.
“But I love to paddle,” Helen told him with a bright smile.
“Do you love ghosts too?” Jack asked.
“I—I don’t know. You see I never saw one, did you?”
“No, I never did.”
“But don’t you believe there are ghosts?”
“No, do you?”
“Well, I don’t know for sure. You see mamma says there are and daddy is just as certain that there aren’t, so I’m kind-of on the fence.”
“Ready to jump either way,” Bob laughed.
“I guess so,” she smiled.
“Hope I’ll be there to catch you when you do,” Jack said and they all laughed.
“Does that man at the camp, Jacques, I think you called him, believe in them?”
“I’m not quite sure about that,” Bob told her. “He says that he does not, but most all of the French and half-breeds around here do. Of course he may be an exception. You see he’s really quite an intelligent fellow even if he is a breed.”
They found the luggage where it had been left and, quickly getting it aboard, they made a speedy run up the lake getting back to the camp just as Jacques was blowing the dinner horn.
“That’s some engine,” Jack declared as he passed the trunk up to Bob. “Didn’t miss a stroke all the way.”
Three days passed and, much to the disgust of the boys, nothing happened that even remotely suggested ghosts. Mrs. Sleeper was plainly disappointed, but her husband took it as a matter of course, giving it as his opinion that the whole thing had probably been nothing more than a boyish prank26. But the time had by no means hung heavily on their hands. Despite her years they found the girl, Helen, as Jack declared, a regular sport. She fished with them and they were amazed at her skill with the fly rod. She swam with them and Jack, who was rightly proud of his attainments27 in the water, had to exert himself to the utmost to keep ahead of her in the many races which they had.
“She ought to have been a boy,” he confided28 to Bob one day as he watched her slender form enter the water, making hardly a ripple29, as she dove from the top of a precipitous rock nearly twelve feet above the lake.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Bob replied. “She’s pretty nice just as she is.”
“Nothing like that,” Bob laughed. “But you’ll agree that she is all to the good.”
“And then some,” Jack nodded his head.
It was the fourth night of their stay at the camp when Bob awoke suddenly. It was an unusual thing for him to wake up in the night unless disturbed so the first thought to enter his mind was that something had happened. He lay perfectly30 still and listened, but no sound save Jack’s deep breathing came to his ears. He raised his head slightly and looked about the room, but the darkness was so intense that he could see nothing. He was about to turn over and go to sleep again concluding that everything was all right, when his eye caught a bright spot on the wall of the room opposite his bed and just above that of his brother. It was a very bright spot not more than an inch in diameter. For some minutes he watched it half fascinated. Then it began slowly to move upward. Up, up it went so slowly that at first he was uncertain as to whether it was really moving at all. It ascended31 until it had reached a point not more than a foot or two from the ceiling and there it paused for several minutes. Then as slowly it began to move to the right but only for a short distance before it began to descend32. Down it came until it was at the level from which it started, and then, after a short pause, it moved to the left until it came to rest in the same place where it had first appeared.
Bob was not frightened, but a peculiar33 sensation, which he was unable to analyze34, took possession of him as he watched the spot. It did not move again but continued to glow for some minutes and then began, imperceptibly at first and then more rapidly to fade. Just as it disappeared entirely35 he thought he heard what sounded like a mocking laugh away off in the deep woods. But it was so faint that he was not sure that he had really heard it at all.
For a long time he watched the wall but the spot did not return and finally he fell off to sleep. The sun was up some distance when he awoke again and Jack was nearly dressed. At first he thought he would not tell anyone of his experience, but on second thought he concluded that it would be hardly fair to Jack, so he decided to tell him.
“Jack,” he said as he pulled on his clothes, “I’m not sure but I rather think I saw that ghost last night.”
“Don’t get excited. I merely said that I think I saw the ghost.”
“Where was it?”
“Why, in the room here of course.”
“And you let it get away?”
“Well, it didn’t hardly seem a thing you could catch, you know.”
“How do I know? What did it look like?”
“It was just a spot of light on the wall.”
“Huh.” It was evident that Jack was disappointed not to say disgusted. “What kind of a ghost do you call that?”
“I don’t know I’m sure,” Bob smiled.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“To tell the truth I never thought of it.”
“Well, what did it do?”
Bob explained its movements.
“Sure you didn’t dream it?” Jack demanded.
“To be perfectly honest, no, but I thought I was awake.”
“Pinch yourself?”
“No. You see it was so strange that I didn’t seem to think of anything.” Then, as Jack said nothing, he told him about the laugh he thought he had heard.
“Seems kind of fishy36 to me,” Jack declared after a moment’s thought.
“Same here,” Bob agreed. “Perhaps I dreamed the whole thing. It wouldn’t be at all strange if I did.” But deep down in his heart he was quite certain that it had not been a dream.
“Will you tell the Sleepers about it?” Jack asked.
“What do you think?”
“Well, seeing that you’re not sure about it I’d let it go and say nothing. If it wasn’t a dream it’ll come again and then will be time enough.”
“I reckon that will be best.”
Despite his lack of help, Jacques was making them all very comfortable.
The camp was well stocked with provisions and the meals were excellent. Mr. Sleeper spent a good part of his time writing on a book which, he told the boys, was to be a text book on Chemistry, while his wife, when she was not reading, was roaming about in the woods although she never went far from the camp. Almost every evening after supper they all went for a sail about the lake in the Loon. It would usually be dark before they returned to the camp, but, as the boat was equipped with a good headlight, they did not mind it.
“It seems like a good night for ghosts,” Mr. Sleeper said as they were returning from their sail the night after Bob’s experience.
“Why do you say that, George?” Mrs. Sleeper asked quickly. She was never quite sure as to whether or not her husband was serious.
“Oh, it seems so still like,” he laughed.

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